Apple’s flagship iPhone release this year took the company in a new and important direction—not for the first time. The iPhone XS and XS Max contain a next-generation microprocessor (the “brain” of these phones) that has what Apple calls a “Bionic” Central Processing Unit. This component is specifically designed to process Machine Learning (ML) tasks, functions that fall under the familiar term of Artificial Intelligence or AI. Meanwhile, Apple opened these new electronics to third-party developers, a sign that the company is taking AI seriously. In fact, AI has become a mainstay of many new, high-end mobile phones. Google adapted its Pixel range in a similar fashion. These brands use AI to deliver mass customization and more personalized customer experiences. It illustrates that investment in AI is growing. And it's getting to the point that even smaller enterprises can benefit. Let’s take a look at some simple but powerful and effective ways your small business can take its first tentative steps into the AI arena to help grow your business.
3 Ways SMEs use AI to Improve Customer Experience
The core value of AI to any business is the potential to personalize the experience for customers visiting a website, at scale and in an inexpensive way. You can see examples of AI in action everywhere: When Netflix recommends shows that people like you have enjoyed; when Amazon suggests something you might like to add to your cart and seems to know what you like; when Google search results hit the nail on the head. Artificial Intelligence is essentially pattern matching. Using sophisticated algorithms, called Neural Networks, clever AI software trawls large data sets and establishes common threads. From these results, businesses can apply probabilities to the content they show their eCommerce visitors, surfacing more relevant information, products and tools for their visitors. By assisting users in achieving their aims through this information and these tools, conversion and sales improve. The business value of AI, then, comes from automating the tasks that create those threads and that lead to personalization. It's something humans can not do, at least not cost-effectively or in a timely manner.
Chatbots are automated, AI-based software tools that engage with website visitors and answer questions in a human way. And chatbots are a simple way to begin working with AI tools. Chatbots do the same thing that live agents do—provide information and help customers get past certain thresholds to make a purchase—but cost less and work 24 hours a day. The benefits of chatbots do not end here. One interesting aspect of automated agents is that customers appear more likely to ask real questions of chatbots than they would of a human. This can be especially important in fields where people feel self-conscious or insufficiently knowledgeable. A good example of an "off-the-shelf" chatbot solution for small enterprises is Chymebot, a preconfigured customer service agent which can automate the responses to the most common questions.
Pitching the right product to the right visitor is the key to online sales. There is no benefit to exposing your entire product catalog to every visitor when they're interested in only a portion of your products. AI can help you develop better segments, associating factors like their age, how they got to your website or any one of a thousand data points. You’re probably already using Google Analytics. Google’s Optimize 360 toolset will extend the insights you have in Google Analytics and offers an easy way to use AI in the segmentation of your users. It’s a good first step toward personalization. Work with your analytics agency to explore it.
For businesses who maintain an ongoing relationship with website visitors, segmentation of users into groups can assist them in re-engaging customers at the right time, with the right message about the right product for maximum benefit. There are now whole marketing platforms, such as Albert, to help establish this sort of approach easily.
AI for Business Improvement
The companies that benefit the most from AI are the ones who invest big and invest early in AI capabilities that will underpin their business in the future. In addition to the out of the box solutions described above, there are a surprising number of free, online AI frameworks and tools from Google, Microsoft and other companies. Many of these services are on a "pay per use" basis. For example, for a fee of a few cents one a service may analyze and create a text version of a spoken phrase, a development clearly integral to chatbots. That's a critical point for smaller companies. The charging mechanism means that AI services will be the same cost to businesses of all size, thus flattening the playing field.
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